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ShatnersBassoon

So what do you love about guitar building?

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Apologies if this in the wrong subsection! Many reasons for me….

Theres a tendency to slip in to a mindset whereby things just stay ‘as is’. When it comes to guitar building I kind of like to spend ridiculous amounts of money on materials because there becomes a responsibility to kick ones ass in to gear so to speak.

Is it plain sailing hell no! The learning curve is frustrating as hell and Ive often wanted to throw entire guitars in the bin.

However, I’ve learnt…never give up! It’s so unbelievably rewarding and the result of your creations…all of the unique nuances that result from an individuals working process mean that the result becomes a part of you in the same way as writing music, or creating a beautiful painting. It may take one guitar, it may take 10 guitars, but Jimi Hendrix…how long did it take for him to find his unique voice (in the same way as us builders) was he amazing from day one? Hell no! The dude slept with his guitar!

Another thing I love is challenging ‘rules’. Cant use pine? Hell why not! It’s liberating to free oneself from these shackles.

Anyway, all rambling food for thought hopefully.

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What do I love about guitar building? - NOTHING

...er maybe once a project is finished, but nothing I do is ever finished!

I find the whole thing is frustrating, always pressed for time and make mistakes. I'm always trying to perfect ways of doing things for future projects but I have never done anything the same twice. Or if I do actually make use of templates I've made I find its really tedious

So its either frustrating or boring! What's there to love about that, Nothing!

But every now and then I look at my creations and I'm dumbfounded. I look at this thing and think "I made this, I can't believe it" And if I show them to other people sometimes they don't care but others are completely blown away

So just once in a while I do find an ounce of satisfaction, and gotta love that!

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I'm 100% with Crusader. Frustrating as all hell. I think that part I like best is lumber processing... which isn't really guitar building anyways hahahaha.

But for some reason I keep doing it.

Chris

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Frustrating indeed!

Whenever I manage to get the guitar in the shape I think it's almost finished, I find a flaw. Knowing the mirror image of the builder, finding a flaw made by him is among the most irritating things I know.

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I love it for being an outlet for creativity where the finished product is actually useful instead of something that just sits on a shelf gathering dust. I love that in the hands of someone with a different talent than mine it becomes a source of beautiful music. So it becomes something beautiful to look and something beautiful to hear.

I love the process of turning a pile of lumber into flowing curves that my fingers can't help but trace. I love the transformation the wood makes from a rough cut chunk to a silky smooth deeply figured natural work of art.

And I really love that while I have a build going that I look forward to getting lost in it every weekend while I turn the rest of the world off.

I love finishing a build and hate that the project is over.

SR

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sm thing I love about building pedals/computers/software/anything-else: I can build something much more unique than I could ever afford to buy.  I enjoy the dreaming it up just as much as realizing it... perhaps more (rosewood binding!). 

Also... I enjoy it when folks see something I built and think it's nice and respond as such.  Perhaps it is me just feeding my ego but I genuinely enjoy that.

 

good question.

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for me.. its just finishing the sweethearts... at 73 and with thousands behind me over almost 60 years... when I finally get it strung up and the preliminary setup.. and strum it the first time... the thought still races through my head, "Jeez.. I made that..."  

What's not to love...

Just think if we played the Oboe.. ever try to make an Oboe?  Yeah, me neither...😆

 

r

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For me it is the process. I love finding great wood, then matching them together for the complimentary flow of the grain and color. Deciding on the style and designing the model. Ah!! then the smells of the wood as you work it and see it coming together. The textures in your hands as you envision the end result. Finally the culmination of all of these and some, that result in someones ability to bring that inert vision to life with it's unique sound that only this one will sing.

MK

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On 9/26/2019 at 11:12 PM, Ronkirn said:

for me.. its just finishing the sweethearts... at 73 and with thousands behind me over almost 60 years... when I finally get it strung up and the preliminary setup.. and strum it the first time... the thought still races through my head, "Jeez.. I made that..."  

What's not to love...

Just think if we played the Oboe.. ever try to make an Oboe?  Yeah, me neither...😆

 

r

Hi... first time contributor here.

For me also its the first time I can plug her in, strike a cord, play for a bit then...

Ok that's done what should I do next🤔

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There are some parts I really don't like about guitar building - I don't much enjoy anything to do with slotting fretboards, hammering or levelling frets. I don't much enjoying preparing blanks, resawing a billet of wood with a hand saw is no fun at all, in fact I'm still aching from bookmatching some walnut at the weekend. But, I do like having done all those things.

Now that my finishing has taken a big leap in quality, my favourite stage is seeing a the figure pop with a coat of lacquer on it. But honestly I really enjoy the whole process in making a functional piece of art, and all the small jobs that I don't enjoy soon get forgotten when it's got strings on it. 

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i find that building guitars is cheaper than building hot rods, and takes less time than building computer games. 

woodworking and electronics don't bother me - i took shop classes in jr high and high school. 

waiting for parts sucks.  and of course waiting for glue and finishes to dry is no fun.

also, i'm not obsessive compulsive about cosmetics, which eliminates a big source of stress in a build.

thinking and planning ahead seem to be very important to avoid errors and setbacks. and you have to be willing to change designs that don't seem to work out as well as expected.

another key thing seems to be testing things (stains etc) before you actually use them for real on the guitar.

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1 hour ago, norm barrows said:

waiting for parts sucks

Yepp. It normally takes about 6 weeks for the China package to arrive. Now that our Post is on strike and may continue until Christmas...

But that's part of the journey!

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While there's no project I do where there isn't at least one point where I think 'will this EVER get finished', other than that, I like many, many aspects.  For me it's a hobby.  If I was trying to make money, then I think it would become a bit of a trial.  But as it is:

- I like the mental challenge.  It's why I quite like doing the odd-balls - the 'how am I going to do THAT?' aspect

- Now I've learnt how to sharpen blades, I love using hand tools - especially hand planes

- I love the response when I first pass the finished product across to someone I've built for or a much loved instrument that has been saved after a mishap.

- I love the response of friends and family when they see a finished product.  'What - YOU made this???  What - YOU????'

- I still get a kick when, against all my expectations, what I've built sounds tangibly better than a bit of string pulled over a baked bean can

- I get a HUGE kick when I see one of my instruments played live.  Heard one of my basses on the radio the other day.  Massive thrill!

- I love carving necks and body shapes

 

What I don't particularly enjoy is:

- sanding.  I don't do it well enough.  I don't do it long enough

- fret-dressing.  Dislike doing the first one and then I know I've got to do it again another 23 times

- working with ebony.  Love the end product.  Hate the mess and the sheer hard work (see 'sanding')

- not overly keen on finishing.  Bit too hit and miss for my liking.

 

But tolerating those few dislikes is a small price to pay for such a fulfilling pastime.

 

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2 hours ago, Andyjr1515 said:

- I still get a kick when, against all my expectations, what I've built sounds tangibly better than a bit of string pulled over a baked bean can

 

that is going on your greatest hits album right there.  cracked me up - thanks for that.

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I’ve only built 3 guitars in the last 10 years, only two of which are still in existence.  After getting married, buying a house etc I’m finally getting around to my 4th guitar.  So far I’m loving every minute.  Even when I screw up, I stop work, think about it overnight in bed (all the best inventors used their subconscious to resolve problems) and usually know how to deal with it the next day.

I love:

having something productive to do in the evenings and weekends after work.

working with hand tools, I have a dirt cheap hand plane that I have so much satisfaction using as I spent so long tuning it up.  When you get the straight full length curl of maple as it shaves off the blank...no better feeling

contrary to others here, I don’t mind sanding but I do change the paper a lot which makes it easier.  Costs a bit though.

I love seeing everything come together

i love screwing up... well not screwing up but using the opportunity to learn how to fix that screwup.  e.g. my router bit fell out when routing truss rod slot!  I could have cried at the time as it was a lovely curly maple neck blank.  I routed it out deeper, put in a fillet of walnut and when carved out at the back of the neck looks like the Fender walnut trussrod strip. Whilst it wasn’t planned I have no regrets, it looks like it was meant to be there.
 

I also love dreaming up new ideas, jigs, thinking of an order of work- making a work plan. 

I don’t like:

very little I don’t like, I’ve only ever painted guitars but finishing with paint can be frustrating.  This time I’m going to try Hand staining flamed maple top and finish with oil so hopefully it will work out.

I don’t like using power tools too much.  Especially routers and circular saws, they are too noisy which breaks the peaceful work when using hand tools.  Also they can remove wood way too quick.  Anytime I’ve made a mistake, it’s Been with a  power tool and it takes 3 times as long to fix it.  Any time I make a mistake with a hand tool it’s easy to fix. The power tools I don’t mind using are the Triton bobbin sander and band saw.

every new task I come too I think there has to be a better way.  Sometimes i feel I spend more time making jigs than actually building.  The satisfaction comes when the jugs I’ve built work as designed and give clean and repeatable results.

i think there’s a member on this forum has a tag line something along the lines of “building guitars is constantly making mistakes and fixing them until you have a finished product”.  As a “newbie” i find that so true!!

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On 11/30/2019 at 3:07 PM, willliam_q said:

I’ve only built 3 guitars in the last 10 years, only two of which are still in existence.  After getting married, buying a house etc I’m finally getting around to my 4th guitar.

 

On 11/30/2019 at 3:07 PM, willliam_q said:

 The satisfaction comes when the jugs I’ve built work as designed and give clean and repeatable results.

if you're only building one guitar every 2.5 years on average, whats the point in repeatable results? i dont get it. you just like making jigs? i mean that i get, jigs are cool - sometimes cooler than the part they fab (fabricate). but.....    no offense - just asking - i'm a bit confused here.

or is it you need the jig to do the job right, so "you gotta break a few eggs to make a real mayonnaise" so to speak?

 

Edited by norm barrows

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Couple of reasons.  I’m intending on building more guitars (for myself) but mostly they are the jigs I need to do the job right.  The previous jigs I built weren’t good enough or had been thrown out in the house move so had to remake them...or make them better.

i haven’t really built a lot of jigs but it feels like I’ve spent a lot of time on them since I only get a few hours per week to work on the project.  since I don’t have a table saw the ones I have built have been time consuming.  E.g a planer sled for the router and a truss rod routing jig.  Also making the guitar templates takes me a bit of time.

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41 minutes ago, willliam_q said:

Couple of reasons.  I’m intending on building more guitars (for myself) but mostly they are the jigs I need to do the job right.

I can relate to this. 

I used to hate making jigs and, to be honest, couldn't see the point of spending time making a jig when I could spend that time cutting real wood.

And then I made my first acoustic...

With an acoustic, there are a decent number of jigs you simply must make - because without them the result is simply not going to be right.  And that has taught me that there is merit in making more jigs for solid bodies - they can give you a more accurate result.

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On 12/4/2019 at 3:28 AM, willliam_q said:

since I don’t have a table saw the ones I have built have been time consuming.

a circular saw with a guide board clamped to the work always works in a pinch. the guide board is your fence, and voila you have an inverted table saw. the blade moves in relation to the work instead of the work moving in relation to the blade.  but honestly, those little mini 5.5" inch table saws are really nice. i used to use one at home depot when i was building displays and stuff. and they are pretty cheap. around $100 back in the day. might find them on ebay for under $100. a 2" or so cutting depth means they can cut most bodies and all but the thickest neck blanks. perfectly adequate for working with planks, not so great for working with posts.

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Yea that’s pretty much what I did, except I use a guide rail and had to measure and allow for the width of the saw each time.  What I should have done was take a 1/2” MDF  straight cut the width if the saw with a stop guide and clamp it straight at the cut line.  Things would have been a fair bit quicker had I done that.  That would remove the need for additional measuring and calculations.

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